Ransomware Strikes PA Dems

The threat of Ransomware is something we have written about much and now it seems that this scourge has infected the Pennsylvania State Democrats.

Pennsylvania’s Senate Democrats yesterday reported that they are in contact with the FBI and state attorney general’s office after a “ransomware” cyberattack shut down their computer systems.

The attack Friday left lawmakers and staff in the caucus unable to access their computer network or data.

Senator Jay Costa states that the ransomware attack was discovered Friday morning. Citing the investigation, caucus officials are not saying what, if any, ransom was demanded.

A ransomware attack is typically aimed at stealing sensitive information in an attempt to be paid for the data’s return, often in a digital currency.

Democratic Govenor Tom Wolf’s office states that the attack hasn’t affected the state’s networks, which are separate from the Senate Democrats’ computers. An FBI spokeswoman in Philadelphia didn’t immediately have any information about the case. The attorney general’s office says it is taking the cyberattack very seriously.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid. More modern ransomware families, collectively categorized as crypto-ransomware, encrypt certain file types on infected systems and forces users to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods to get a decrypt key.

Protecting Yourself Against Ransomware

The best defense against ransomware is to outwit attackers by not being vulnerable to their threats in the first place. This means backing up important data daily, so that even if your computers and servers get locked, you won’t be forced to pay to see your data again.

The primary method of infecting victims with ransomware involves every hacker’s favorite bait—the “spray-‘n’-pray” phishing attack, which involves spamming you with emails that carry a malicious attachment or instruct you to click on a URL where malware surreptitiously crawls into your machine. The recent ransomware attacks targeting Congressional members prompted the House IT staff to temporarily block access to Yahoo email accounts, which apparently were the accounts the attackers were phishing.

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